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Council passes resolution supporting change in public access funding

The Worthington City Council on Monday approved a resolution of support for efforts of the Minnesota Association of Community Telecommunications Administrators to modernize public, education and government programming and public access funding.

City Administrator Steve Robinson explained that community television in Worthington is funded through franchise fees with local cable television providers. The franchise fees received by the city are based on the number of customers.

As viewing preferences have changed, Robinson continued, many individuals have cut the cable TV cord and turned to streaming services, thereby reducing the fees the city receives to continue to fund Cable 3. Worthington Cable 3 broadcasts city council meetings, as well as many of the high school's athletic and cultural events and local celebrations.

Current state law does not require alternative streaming companies to compensate cities for use of our public right of way. Two House and Senate bills have been introduced to modernize and provide sustainable funding for community television. One would assess a fee on streaming services, collected by local governments, to fund local public, education and government community television. Another would, in exchange for private use of the city's public right of way by broadband providers, establish a broadband franchise requirement to generate compensation.

Among the other items of business during Monday's meeting was the approval of a ballfield maintenance agreement with Worthington Independent School District 518.

 

The City of Worthington currently leases the Middle School Baseball complex from District 518, and the city's Public Works Department maintains and schedules all activities for these fields. These duties include field maintenance, cleaning and trash removal and minor maintenance of facilities. District 518 will now pay the city of Worthington $11,660 in 2024, a 10% increase from 2023. 

 

Similarly, the city and Minnesota West had a maintenance agreement approved Monday to have city Public Works staff do annual maintenance on the athletic fields located on the Minnesota West Worthington campus. These fields include the baseball, softball, and football practice fields. Duties include mowing, dragging, lining, fertilizing, aerating and general cleanup. The fee that Minnesota West will pay the city is not to exceed $15,000.

 

Also Monday, city council members approved a 10% increase in the rates charged for leasing a hangar at the Worthington Municipal Airport. The last rate increase had been a 5% hike in 2020. At this time 19 of the 22 available hangars are currently rented, for an 86% occupancy rate. Full occupancy would result in an annual revenue of $34,836.88.

 

The council also approved a grant for $6,000.00 from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council that will go toward the "Dia de Los Muertos Catrinas Community Art Project (Day of the Dead Celebration) at the Memorial Auditorium."


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